Sometimes, especially when we’re young, there are movies, and then there are MOVIES—ones that change how we view the world and perhaps alter the course of our lives, if we’re susceptible to that sort of thing.
It was 1986 or so, and 6-year-old Andy saw “Top Gun²” with his parents at a family friend’s house. This was when having a VCR was a big deal, and people rented movies from stores. Sometimes the store ran out of copies of the movie you wanted to see.
My younger readers, if there are any, have no idea what I’m talking about.
Anyway, “Top Gun,” with its intense air combat scenes, memorable lines, killer soundtrack and rivalries among pilots with cool nicknames, changed little Andy’s life. For nearly the next 10 years—until he discovered playing football and chasing girls—he wanted to fly jets off aircraft carriers and have a sweet call sign, like “Iceman³,” “Maverick” or “Wolfman.” But not “Goose.” What a terrible name. What would my call sign be? Maybe “Coywolf.” Or “Batman.” Probably “Batman.”
“Top Gun” flew into my mind the other night when the usually whiny Katniss, our 40-something-pound German shepherd mix, decided barking was more effective than whining to let us know her water bowl was empty. At 4 a.m.
“Maverick”: “He’s too close for missiles, ‘Goose’; I’m switching to guns.”
That’s essentially what Katniss did: Like “Maverick,” Tom Cruise’sª character, Katniss, whose call sign is “Hug Thug,” analyzed the situation and realized that from downstairs, barking would be much more effective than whining. She was right! (“Maverick,” for the record, in that particular scene realized that in such a close air combat situation, if he fired a missile he would risk damaging his own plane from the resulting explosion in addition to destroying his enemy. Using his F-14’s 20 mm cannon was a safer bet. Nerd alert!)
I love how ridiculously smart my dog is. She’s figured out that she can nudge the doorknob—making a surprisingly loud clinking sound, which isn’t annoying in the least—of the particular door she wants opened. She’s figured out that if she gives me her “sad dog” face in the morning before I leave for work that I am more likely to pet her for a minute or two longer. But sometimes I don’t like how smart she is, like when her now constant barking won’t stop at night until she gets what she wants.
Like “Maverick,” Tom Cruise’s character, Katniss, whose call sign is “Hug Thug,” analyzed the situation and realized that from downstairs, barking would be much more effective than whining.
Because of her new outbursts—or what one might consider “buzzing the tower,” in “Top Gun” speak—which are every bit as jarring and headache-inducing in reality as they seem to be in writing, I don’t sleep nearly as well as I need to. Let’s hope “Hug Thug,” who really is a sweet girl, becomes a lot more “hug” and a lot less “thug” in the coming nights.
Because right now I’m feeling the need … the need for sleep.
¹“Batman” in 1989 was another one of those movies that still resonates with me today. I was already a Batman fan, naturally, before the movie, as I absolutely loved the old TV show with Adam West and that sweet Batmobile. After “Batman,” though, I was goner. Still am.
²Ugh. The way I stylized that looks like “Top Gun 2,” which I hear is in the works. Anyway, little 6-year-old me didn’t see all of the movie; during the, ahem, adult scene, dad and I went into the garage to drink Cokes and came back once the adult stuff was over. I’m still not sure if I’ve ever seen that part of the movie, or if I’m still not allowed.
³It took me a period of years to make the connection that Val Kilmer was “Iceman.” I hear Val is in poor health these days, which is sad. He was amazing as Jim Morrison in “The Doors.” The rest of the movie could’ve been better, though, but that’s my favorite band, so maybe I’m a little biased.
ªYes, younger readers who may or may not exist, Tom Cruise was once in cool movies and not just known for following Scientology—not that there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over him telling Brooke Shields how she should or should not have handled her post-partum depression, though. The two actors have long since healed that rift, but a man has no place telling a woman how she should feel after giving birth, and no one has any right to tell anyone else how to feel in general. That sound you hear is my high horse galloping away because I’m off it now.